What is the AAPC?
The AAPC is the American Association of Professional Coders.
They are nationally recognized as being dedicated to the education and certification of medical billers and coders. The AAPC is not a certification. They are an agency that provides certifications.
The healthcare industry recognizes the AAPC as the gold standard in medical coding. Those who receive a certification through the AAPC aim to prove that their coding skills are among the best in the business.
What Certifications Do the AAPC Offer?
The AAPC offers a variety of certifications for medical coders. Each certification is designed to test your knowledge of the codes that are most used among professionals throughout the healthcare system.
The most recognized of these certifications is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC). The CPC tests your knowledge of:
- Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
- International Classification of Diseases 10th Edition Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM)
- Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS Level II)
- Evaluation and management principles
- Surgical coding
- Adherence to documentation and coding guidelines
This certification is the most versatile and popular. It can be applied throughout medical facilities.
The Certified Outpatient Certification (COC) prepares you for a career in outpatient facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers or hospital outpatient billing and coding departments.
Outpatient is used to describe healthcare patients who do not receive overnight care. They visit the hospital to meet with a healthcare provider and then leave after their appointment.
A COC certification verifies your CPT, ICD-10, and HCPCS Level II coding skills, while also ensuring you have specialized knowledge of payment policies.
The AAPC has recently added the Certified Inpatient Certification (CIC) to their exam options and is the only inpatient certification available. The CIC is for coders who are interested in working in inpatient hospital or facilities.
Inpatient facilities are those that require patients to be admitted in order to monitor their health. They typically stay at the facility for one or more nights and often have terminal or life threatening diseases.
The CIC is formatted to test your understanding of ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-Procedure Coding System (PCS) coding, specialized payment knowledge in Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Groups (MS-DRGs) and Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS).
The Certified Risk Adjustment Certification (CRC) is also a new certification. It focuses on ensuring you know the correct application of ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes used for risk adjustment coding.
It does this by creating questions about:
- Diagnosis Coding
- Documentation Improvement
- Pathophysiology, Medical Terminology and Anatomy
- Purpose and Use of Risk Adjustment Models
- Quality Care
Most coders are found within healthcare facilities. However, health plan providers are realizing that medical coders are valuable in their industry as well. They are now seeking out certified medical coders to process and analyze medical claims for payment.
That is where the Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) certification comes into play.
Recipients of this certification are qualified to work specifically for public and private payers. To earn a CPC-P certification you must understand medical code and how it relates to the reimbursement procedures.
The AAPC only allows members of the agency to take the certification exam. If you want to earn an AAPC certification, you will need to buy a membership. They accept first time membership fees along with the fee for your exam.
If you are a student with the AAPC your exam fee is $300, non-students will pay $380. Students with the agency also save money on their membership dues. It costs $90 for AAPC students and $110 if you are a student with a different program. The cost for non-students is $160.
Do You Need a Degree to Earn a Certification?
A degree is not required to earn a certification. However, earning a medical billing and coding certificate is highly recommended for those who seek to become certified.
You have probably noticed that there is a lot of technical language involved in medical coding. This terminology will need to be learned before earning a certification. The best way to learn about the medical coding field is to take courses and earn a medical billing and coding certificate.
After earning a certificate your chances of passing the AAPC will increase.
What Can You do with a Certification?
Earning a certification makes you a competitive candidate when searching for jobs. Employers prefer candidates who have an AAPC certification. It gives them the comfort of knowing that they are hiring someone who has passed a knowledge based exam tailored to medical coding.
Because the AAPC is the leader in billing and coding certification, earning a certification through them also increases your chances of getting a higher paying job.
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